Why Do Dogs Have Reverse Sneezing

If you are a dog owner, you may have witnessed your furry friend making strange snorting or choking sounds, accompanied by a peculiar posture where they extend their neck and inhale forcefully. This phenomenon, known as reverse sneezing, can be alarming for pet owners who are unaware of its cause. In this article, we will explore why dogs have reverse sneezing and address some frequently asked questions about this common canine behavior.

What is Reverse Sneezing?

Reverse sneezing, also referred to as pharyngeal gag reflex or inspiratory paroxysmal respiration, is a temporary condition that affects many dogs. It is characterized by a sudden and rapid inhalation of air through the nose, causing a loud snorting or honking sound. During an episode, dogs may stand still, extend their neck, and may appear to be choking or struggling to breathe. While it can be distressing to witness, reverse sneezing is generally harmless and self-resolving.

What Causes Reverse Sneezing?

Reverse sneezing occurs due to irritation or inflammation of the soft palate and throat. Several factors can trigger these episodes, including:

1. Allergies: Dogs may experience reverse sneezing as a result of allergies to pollen, dust, mold, or certain food ingredients.

2. Irritants: Inhaling irritants such as perfumes, cleaning agents, or smoke can irritate the nasal passages and trigger reverse sneezing.

3. Excitement or Anxiety: Some dogs may exhibit reverse sneezing episodes when they are overly excited, anxious, or stressed.

4. Nasal Congestion: Blockages or congestion in the nasal passages can lead to reverse sneezing.

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5. Post-Nasal Drip: Excessive mucus or post-nasal drip can cause irritation, leading to reverse sneezing.

6. Brachycephalic Breeds: Dogs with short noses and flat faces, like Bulldogs or Pugs, are more prone to reverse sneezing due to their unique anatomy.

Frequently Asked Questions about Reverse Sneezing

1. Is reverse sneezing dangerous for my dog?
Reverse sneezing is generally harmless and does not cause any long-term health issues.

2. How long do reverse sneezing episodes last?
Most reverse sneezing episodes last for a few seconds to a minute. If they persist for longer durations or become more frequent, consult your veterinarian.

3. Can I help my dog during a reverse sneezing episode?
While it may be distressing to witness, it is generally best to let the episode run its course. Gently massaging your dog’s throat or briefly covering their nostrils can sometimes help shorten the episode.

4. Can reverse sneezing be prevented?
Preventive measures depend on the underlying cause. Reducing exposure to allergens, avoiding irritants, and keeping your dog’s environment clean can help prevent episodes triggered by allergies or irritants.

5. Should I take my dog to the vet for reverse sneezing?
If your dog experiences reverse sneezing occasionally, without any other concerning symptoms, it is usually not necessary to visit the vet. However, if the episodes become more frequent, last longer, or are accompanied by other signs of distress, consult your veterinarian for further evaluation.

6. Can reverse sneezing be treated?
Treatment for reverse sneezing involves addressing the underlying cause. Your veterinarian may prescribe medications such as antihistamines, nasal decongestants, or anti-inflammatories to alleviate symptoms or manage any allergies.

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7. Can reverse sneezing lead to suffocation?
No, reverse sneezing does not lead to suffocation. Dogs have a natural reflex that allows them to clear their airways, ensuring they can breathe properly.

8. Are certain breeds more prone to reverse sneezing?
Brachycephalic breeds, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, or Shih Tzus, are more prone to reverse sneezing due to their unique anatomy. However, reverse sneezing can occur in any breed.

9. Can reverse sneezing be an indication of a more serious condition?
In most cases, reverse sneezing is not a sign of a serious condition. However, if your dog exhibits other concerning symptoms like coughing, difficulty breathing, or nasal discharge, it is advisable to consult your veterinarian for a thorough examination.

10. Can reverse sneezing be triggered by exercise?
Intense exercise or excitement can occasionally trigger reverse sneezing episodes in some dogs. Ensuring your dog has proper warm-up and cool-down periods during exercise can help minimize these incidents.

11. Can reverse sneezing be prevented through diet?
While diet alone cannot prevent reverse sneezing, ensuring your dog’s diet is well-balanced and free from potential allergens can contribute to overall respiratory health.


Reverse sneezing is a common, temporary condition that affects many dogs. While it can be alarming to witness, it is generally harmless and self-resolving. Understanding the triggers and underlying causes of reverse sneezing can help pet owners better manage their dog’s respiratory health. If you have concerns about your dog’s reverse sneezing episodes, always consult your veterinarian for appropriate guidance and care.